- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dogs may think they rule the world. But cats know they rule it, and maybe a good part of the universe as well.

Surely there is a lost Cat Planet out there, where cats are Mewtants with fully articulated speech and distinct patterns of socialization with the lesser species.

“Hey. Stupid human. Go get me some tuna. Now.”

“You there. Dog. Bring me something to swat at, and be quick about it.”

Ah, the Cat Planet. Even Flash Gordon won’t go there.

Back on Earth, cats have yet to perfect the true art of conversation, though they are working on it. They still exhibit distinct patterns of socialization with the lesser species, which consists of most Earthlings.

Yet Earthlings are pretty good to their cats, despite it all. Why, cats are honored annually by the Enormous Cats Foundation of Worf, N.J., which recognizes the year’s greatest dramatic performances at a star-studded gala.

Winners receive the much-coveted, gold-plated Caterwaul statuette, a complimentary grooming session at any Cats R Us location nationwide, plus an honorary paw print on or near Hollywood Boulevard. This year’s official categories include:

The Cataclysmic Award — For the cat that jumped the farthest while escaping from the family automobile at a tollbooth stop during summer vacation.

The Catcall Award — For the cat or cats that left at least 15 dead field mice on the back porch in a 12-month period. Voles, star-nosed moles and Norwegian rats weighing more than 1 pound will not be considered by judges. (For clarification, consult the Look What the Cat Dragged In Award under Section C.)

Special Catastrophe Recognition — For the cat or cats that expel at least three hairballs when Aunt Madge comes to visit.

In the meantime, here at the Cat Information Vault, our experts have assembled a compendium of primarily useless facts for cat fanciers who hope to figure out why the object of their affection has rejected, accepted, toyed with and ultimately re-rejected their kind offers of slivered mahi-mahi and spring water.

With apologies to cats we have known (Gumdrop Wilson, Kamasutra, Tutu, Mr. Pajamas, Kitkat, Reginald, et al.), we now present the most popular cat names in America, this according to a poll of 300,000 cat owners by the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. of Brea, Calif. — which sells, uh, veterinary pet insurance.

For lady cats, the top 10 names are Chloe, Lucy, Cleo, Princess, Angel, Molly, Kitty, Samantha, Misty and Missy. Among gentleman cats, the top 10 names are Max, Tigger, Tiger, Smokey, Oliver, Simba, Shadow, Buddy, Sam and Sammy.

Old kitty names of yore — the Bootsy and Mittens of yesteryear — do not appear on either list, though Felix is No. 28 on the male cat roster.

“Many pet owners consider their pets to be members of their family. As such, they give them human names like Max, Molly or Maggie,” explained company spokeswoman Carol McConnell, who advises the public not to give their pets names such as Joe, as the animal might mistake it for the all-important command, “No.”

Of course, that word does not register with cats anyway, so the public should feel free to use the name at will.

Meanwhile, the Russian news agency Pravda recently published a complete cat guide — perhaps in deference to Katy Yapugova, a 50-pound Siamese cat from Siberia that once aspired to be named the fattest cat on the planet by the Guinness World Records book. Katy had a 28-inch waist, a “whisker span” of 6 inches and could gnash her way through a sausage in less than a minute.

Alas for Katy, the category is no more. Too many eager cat owners were force-feeding their cats to make the grade, according to Guinness spokesman Stuart Claxton. The last tubby tabby to be listed in the book was Himmy, a 47-pound Australian kitty with a 32-inch waist that was transported about in a wheelbarrow until his death in 1986 at age 10.

Himmy and human failings aside, Pravda does share these cat facts: There are 500 million domestic cats around the globe. Among owners, 25 percent blow-dry their cats after giving them a bath and 95 percent talk to their cats.

There is something to all that cat language business, too. According to our Russian sources, cats make more than 100 distinct sounds, dogs just 10. Cats also reserve “meow” for human contact, not other cats.

Anyone whoever faulted Americans for catering to their cats’ every whim should pay close attention to the Austrians, who have more or less invented the 401 Kat Plan.

“In Austria, cats who served as storehouse guards for several years are granted lifelong pensions paid in milk, meat and bouillon,” Pravda noted, adding that a good mouser can catch 28,899 mice in its lifetime.

Jennifer Harper covers media, politics and catcalls for the Washington Times’ national desk. Reach her at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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